Chicago Burger Co (301 E North Water St, 312-464-1000) You start with a choice of five burger patties—salmon, tuna, turkey, beef and veggie—and add on to your heart’s content, pulling from a huge list of potential toppings. The best part? No matter what combination you choose, it goes pretty great with a beer and a waterside seat.
Whole Foods Market Lincoln Park (1550 N Kingsbury St, 312-587-0648) This new megastore boasts two levels of tables in its backyard, which faces the north branch of the Chicago River. Grab American classics like grilled cheese and strawberry milk shakes made with local favorite Homer’s ice cream at the all-natural Riverview Diner then head out back to the porchlike open seating.
Diosa on the River (11 W Riverwalk South, 312-345-9001) Owner Alan Yuen’s inspiration for this sprawling outdoor patio? Van Gogh’s Cafe Terrace at Night, and he’s trying to re-create that idyllic meal under the stars. But Yuen’s adding his own touch with eclectic dishes like calamari with sweet chile sauce and mixed drinks such as mai tais. And then there’s that river, giving the café a picturesque scene all its own.
Lagniappe (55 W Riverwalk South, 312-726-7716) This weekend marks the grand opening of the riverwalk sibling of this South Side Cajun favorite, meaning now you can enjoy your jambalaya, po’ boys and gumbo with a side of cool breeze and shining sun. This 100-seat location also sports a liquor license, so prepare for Hurricane season.
Cyrano’s Café and Wine Bar on the Riverwalk (233 E Riverwalk South, 312-616-1400) The lush patio at this bistro feels like an oasis, but the serenity is balanced by the kitschy, old-timey Quack Quack Ice Cream Stand serving up sundaes and banana splits to wrap up a meal of French classics like niçoise salad and quiche Lorraine.